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Love Island’s most complained about moments

It’s one of television’s most controversial shows, and for good reason

Lucie and Joe love island
Published: Tuesday, 25th June 2019 at 4:27 pm

From its humble beginnings as a revamp of a 00's celebrity dating show back in 2015, Love Island is now one of television’s most talked-about programmes.


The show’s huge increase in popularity (soaring from an average 0.5 million for its first series to three million this year) has also seen Love Island come under greater scrutiny. Of course, with its audience growing, so have the number of complaints.

While the first series received a mere 15 Ofcom complaints, series four sparked over 4000 – making it the fourth most complained about show of 2018. That said, there are some complaints you have to take with an extremely hefty pinch of salt – last year, three people actually bothered to complain about Laura Anderson and Paul Knopps finishing in second place despite not actually being an 'official' couple.

Series five looks set to be similarly controversial, receiving over 800 complaints in just four days, after people took offence to Maura Higgins’ pursuit of Tommy Fury, and the treatment of Lucie Donlan at the hands of other Islanders.

We’ve looked back over the past five series to observe some of Love Island’s most controversial and complained about moments…

1. Emma-Jane and Terry have sex in plain sight in front of the nation

We’re used to seeing plenty of under-the-cover action on Love Island, with Islanders frequently getting friendly in the dark - but series two stars Emma-Jane Woodhams and Terry Walsh took things a step further in 2016 when they decided to have sex on top of the covers for all to see.

It’s thought their kinky act of voyeurism was a bid to cheat the cameras, with Emma asking Olivia Buckland: “So, if we have sex on top of the covers, they can't air that, can they?"

The producers’ favoured the looks of utter horror from the other Islanders, with the great viewing public only privy to eight seconds, but it was enough to spark eight complaints to Ofcom, who later ruled the scenes did not violate codes of conduct.

2. Adam Collard ‘gaslighting’ and the treatment of Rosie Williams

The series four showdown saw bombshell Rosie Williams break down in tears after Adam Collard started to pursue new Islander Zara McDermott – causing 21 people to complain to Ofcom about Adam’s “abusive behaviour”.

While Ofcom ruled in Love Island’s favour, charity Women’s Aid described Adam’s behaviour as a "red flag" in relationships.

"There are clear warning signs in Adam’s behaviour," said chief executive Katie Ghose at the time. "In a relationship, a partner questioning your memory of events, trivialising your thoughts or feelings, and turning things around to blame you can be part of pattern of gaslighting and emotional abuse.

“Last night, Rosie called out Adam’s unacceptable behaviour on the show. We ask viewers to join her in recognising unhealthy behaviour in relationships and speaking out against all forms of domestic abuse – emotional as well as physical. It is only when we make a stand together against abuse in relationships that we will see attitudes change and an end to domestic abuse.”

The comments led to Adam apologising for his behaviour after he was dumped from the Island some weeks later, insisting he “never intended to upset anybody along the way at any time”.

3. Smoking

Of the 46 complaints the third series of Love Island received, 26 were about the amount of smoking that took place.

While a relatively small number compared to some of the show’s other offences, the issue was debated in the House of Lords, which saw Liberal Democrat, Lord Storey, accuse ITV and the 2017 cast of making smoking appealing.

The show subsequently cut all smoking on camera, with the cast now given their own designated smoking area (a rather unglamorous silver bucket by the front door of the villa) which they can only use one at a time.

4. Kiss-gate

It was one of series four’s most-talked about moments – when Georgia ‘I’m loyal, babes’ Steel planted a kiss on Jack Fowler, despite Jack being coupled up with Laura Anderson.

The scenes, which were replayed over and over in slow motion, appeared to show Georgia go in for a kiss with Jack, while she insisted it was mutual.

But fans were left irate when Idris Virgo lied to Laura about Jack's kiss with Georgia – sparking 557 complaints to Ofcom.

5. Maura Higgins cracking on to Tommy Fury

Ofcom received 486 complaints in four days after Maura Higgins tried awkwardly to seduce Tommy Fury.

The 28-year-old bombshell made several sexual remarks to and about the 20-year-old boxer and left viewers “uncomfortable” as she leaned in for a kiss, only to have him swerve her advances and offer his cheek.

6. Lucie and the other Islanders

It’s been a tough few weeks for Lucie Donlan in the Love Island villa – while initially being part of the show’s first triangle, she then ultimately decided to stick with Joe Garratt over Tommy Fury, but the two remained close friends.

It was Joe’s insistence that he found their friendship “strange”, along with the girls’ behaviour towards Lucie, that saw 302 complaints made to Ofcom over four days. That number then rose to 684 a few days later.

Adina Claire, co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Controlling behaviour is never acceptable, and with Love Island viewers complaining to Ofcom in record numbers about Joe’s possessive behaviour towards Lucie, more people are becoming aware of this and want to challenge it.

“Love Island viewers are now very vocal in calling out unhealthy behaviour between couples on the show, and this is a positive development.”

Joe has since spoken out about the controversy after he was voted off of the island.

“I didn’t manipulate or abuse her,” he told The Sun.

“I am gutted that it has been perceived in that way because it wasn’t like that at all.”

7. Dani, Ellie, Jack and Casa Amor

It may not be Love Island’s most controversial moment on-screen, but it is certainly one of the most complained about.

Casa Amor is designed to test our Islanders and their loyalties, but it seemingly also tested the viewers’ loyalties when Dani Dyer was reduced to tears following a video message which showed Jack Fincham being reunited with ex-girlfriend Ellie Jones.

With Dani breaking down in in the Beach Hut, a staggering 2525 people contacted Ofcom complaining Dani had been ‘emotionally manipulated’ by show bosses – as Jack actively tried to avoid his ex.


Love Island continues weeknights and Sundays at 9pm on ITV 2


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